Archive for the ‘ Baby Name Stories ’ Category

Black History Month Baby Names

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

February is Black History Month—and there’s a rich array of historic names to choose from, if you’re looking to honor the past. Here are some of my favorite picks, and the stories behind them.

Harriet was my cool name of the week pick last week, and with good reason. There’s Harriet Tubman, the escaped slave who helped dozens of slaves escape abuse through her Underground Railroad. It’s a classic name that means “ruler.”

Frederick also means ruler, and it’s the name of Frederick Douglass, who escaped slavery and went on to fight against it and become a political activist and the first African-American nominated for the Vice Presidency. (He also fought for women’s suffrage, decades before women won the right to vote.)

Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus, and went on to become a driving force in the Civil Rights Movement. Her lovely name means “rose.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. encouraged non-violence as a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement. His name, Martin, actually means the opposite—warlike.

Langston Hughes was one of the leading members of the Harlem Renaissance, a poet and novelist in 1920s New York. He was the first African-American man to make his living solely on writing and speaking engagements. Langston is actually an English surname that means “long man’s town.”

Zora Neale Hurston’s most important novel was Their Eyes Were Watching God—but this novelist and playwright, another member of the Harlem Renaissance, also served as an anthropologist studying the Caribbean and the American South. Her name, Zora, means dawn.

Carter G. Woodson was a prominent African-American historian—and is noted as the creator of Black History Month. His name has become trendy lately, and is in the top 10 in some states.

Hiram hasn’t been in vogue since the turn of the 20th century, and dropped out of the top 1000 back in the 1980s. This Hebrew name, which means “brother of the exalted,” was the name of the first African-American Senator, Hiram Revels.

Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American Supreme Court Justice—and he sports an old-fashioned virtue name. It means “thoroughly good,” a trait you could attribute to this historic figure.

Malcolm X was a strong leader who pushed for civil rights for African-Americans, and a Muslim minister. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., he was assassinated.  His name, Malcolm, is a royal name in Scotland, and has been consistently in the top 600 names in the U.S.

Would you consider naming your child after a historical figure you admired? What person would you pick? If you’re still searching for the perfect name, check out our Baby Name Finder. And don’t forget to like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the latest in baby names.

Baby Names: How to Know You've Picked the Right Name
Baby Names: How to Know You've Picked the Right Name
Baby Names: How to Know You've Picked the Right Name

Image: Martin Luther King, Jr. by spirit of america /

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How I Met Your Mother: What’s the Mother’s Name?

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

How I Met Your Mother is finally wrapping after 9 years of the exploits of Ted, Barney, Robin, Lily and Marshall—all in the pursuit of Ted’s legen-(wait for it)-DARY true love. And we’ve finally met her—but we still don’t even know her name. In fact, the name is apparently being kept as some sort of state secret—even the actress who plays her, Cristin Milioti, still doesn’t know what her character’s name is. (Or she’s a pretty good liar.)

So what kind of name is worth this kind of wait? Odds are, her name isn’t shared by one of Ted’s cavalcade of exes. So that rules out: Robin, Karen, Victoria, Stella, Zoey, Jeanette, Cathy, Stacey, Natalie, Becky, Naomi, Carly, Mary, Vicky, Holli, Amanda, Jen, Amy, Cindy, Natali, Cassie, Trudy, or Rachel. And I don’t think it’s Lily, either.

I’m going to throw a few names out there. According to the How I Met Your Mother wiki, the Mother was born in 1984, the year when Jessica was poised to start dominating the girls’ names chart for the rest of the decade. Jessica would be a very fair assumption. But I’m thinking that they might go with something a little less “80s”—so no Tiffany or Amber, either. They’d want something timeless and classic. Something that sounds right with Ted.

Here are my guesses:

Lauren (#21 back in 1984)

Katherine/Kate (#30)

Samantha (#39)

Julia (#87)

Caroline (#168)

What do you think the Mother’s name is? Share your guesses in the comments.

And if you’re looking for a fabulous name for your baby (or for the Mother or the character in your Great American Novel), check out our Baby Name Finder for great suggestions.

Image: Courtesy of CBS/How I Met Your Mother

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Super Bowl Baby Names

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

The Super Bowl has descended upon my area—and so I won’t be leaving my neighborhood for the entire weekend, thanks to the massive traffic jams and road closures promised by the mammoth Super Bowl crowds. (But no, I’m not bitter about being held hostage. Not at all!)

If you missed it in all the coverage of the Big Game, there’s a pair of super-Seahawks fans by the surname of Mann, who gave their daughter the middle name 12th—as in 12th Man, the way most teams refer to their MVP fans, who help support their team to victory. I guess it’s not any more out there than Harper Seven, the progeny of sporty David Beckham and his posh wife Victoria.

On Sunday, Peyton Manning is hoping to lead his Denver Broncos to victory. Perhaps he can help bring his name, Peyton, back from being squarely for the girls more into unisex territory. It’s a name that means fighting-man’s estate.

On the Seattle Seahawks, QB Russell Wilson sports a comeback name for boys—Russell means red-headed, and is currently #426. It comes with the delightful Russ or offbeat Rust (as we talked about in this week’s cool name of the week) as nicknames.

And of course, there are plenty of other players on both teams whose names might be worth borrowing, as our friends over at Nameberry noted. I’m liking Von and Britton.

Are you all geared up for the game? And would you turn to your favorite athlete for baby name inspiration? Or will you be watching Puppy Bowl or the Walking Dead marathon instead?

If you’re still looking for a name for your baby, check out our Baby Name Finder—and don’t forget to like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the latest in baby names.

Baby Names: Avoid Baby Naming Regret
Baby Names: Avoid Baby Naming Regret
Baby Names: Avoid Baby Naming Regret


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Throwback Thursday: 1940s Baby Names

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

The 1940s saw us enter—and win—a world war, then soldiers came home to start the biggest baby boom in U.S. history. The top names of the era are likely the names of your parents or your grandparents. Odds are you have a James (or a Jimmy or Jim) and a Mary in your past.

But while James and Mary still do relatively well, you’ll find other chart toppers that have fallen by the wayside—and may be ready for a comeback. Here are the top 1940s names you might want to consider for your kiddos.


Many of the top 100 baby names in the 1940s don’t feel fresh enough yet for their comeback—perhaps our sons and daughters will help bring stalwarts like Linda and Barbara back into vogue. But there are a few names that may be ready for a second shot at the top spot.

Rosemary was one of the classic nature names, for the herb that symbolizes faithfulness. It hit its peak in the #91 spot back in the 1940s—but after decades of decline, is finally starting to stage a comeback. (Probably because it makes a lovely and less-expected way to get to “Rose.”)

Carol (with or without an “e”) has a special place in my heart—it’s the name of my mother. And given that Carol was the 5th most popular name and Carole the 57th back in the 1940s, odds are you have a relative with the name, too. Both versions have fallen out of the top 1000, but perhaps a little of the popularity of the more traditional Caroline (currently #80 in the U.S.) may rub off on these shorter forms?

Judith has been on a downward spiral since it hit the top 10 in the 1940s—and it’s barely in the top 1000 right now. But the name has an interesting meaning—praised—and a cool new pop-culture association, in the doomed daughter of Walking Dead‘s Rick and Lori. Jude makes a cooler short form than the old-school Judy.

Elaine, a form of Helen, was a top 50 name back in the 1940s—it means “shining one.” One would have thought that Seinfeld’s Elaine could have brought it back into vogue, but it’s still on the decline. (P.S. It’s a cool way to get to the uberpopular nickname Ellie.)


Boys names don’t have the turnover you see in the girls’ side—many of today’s top names, like William, Charles and the like, were top 100 back then, too. But here are a few gems that haven’t been as popular of late.

Keith was just entering its heyday back in the 1940s, when it charted as the 100th most popular name. It’s a Scottish name that means “woods,” and is currently residing at the edge of the top 400.

Lee has become a popular middle name for girls, but I think its meaning, “meadow,” and its simplicity make it a nice contender for today’s boys—either front and center or in the middle spot.

Dennis, a top 20 name back in the 1940s, lost its mojo the second the rough-and-tumble comic book character Dennis the Menace made its debut. But the name, a French take on Dionysus, deserves another look.

Timothy hit its peak not long after ranking as the 63rd most popular name back in the 1940s. It fell out of the top 100 five years ago—but given its Biblical pedigree and its classic-but-not-overused status, it’s worthy of another look.

We’re almost done with our Throwback Thursday series! Check out the previous posts and let me know what your favorite decade was.

And if you’re still on the baby name hunt, check out the Baby Name Finder for some guidance—or send me an email at And don’t forget to like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the latest in baby names.

Image: 1940s woman by Everett Collection/

Baby Names: Avoid Baby Naming Regret
Baby Names: Avoid Baby Naming Regret
Baby Names: Avoid Baby Naming Regret


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Cool Name of the Week: Rust

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Anyone else watching HBO’s newest series, True Detective? It’s not for the faint of heart—it’s a dark story about two cops chasing a pretty wicked serial killer. But the acting, by stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, is pretty darned incredible. And I’m kind of intrigued by Matthew’s character, a cop with a dark past, named Rust Cohle. Rust is dealing with a failed marriage, the death of his daughter—and clearly, as the story is told in flashbacks, something about this case really damaged him for life. He plays both flashback and current-time Rust amazingly well.

Rust feels like a name that should intrigue people looking for something offbeat, but not too out there—along the lines of names like Jet, Ace and the like. It’s actually considered a variant or nickname of the classic name Russell, and it means red-haired. It could be a cool first name—or I like it even better in the middle. It’d be great with Harrison, Elijah, or Benedict—you can place it whichever way suits you. Or you can choose Russell, and use this as a more avant garde nickname for it.

What do you think of the name Rust? Is it worthy of your consideration, or a little too out there?

If you’re still looking for your perfect name, check out our Baby Name Finder, or send your dilemma to me at for a little expert advice for your dilemma. And don’t forget to like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the latest in baby names.

Baby Names: Avoid Baby Naming Regret
Baby Names: Avoid Baby Naming Regret
Baby Names: Avoid Baby Naming Regret

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